The Triumph of Bad Religion

by Nestor Ravilas

 

“Metho Andres, the police chaplain at Station 6 who prayed with the officers, told Reuters that the Bible justified the killing. Quoting Romans 13, he said Duterte was a God-appointed “agent of wrath” whom police should obey without question. He blamed drug users for their own deaths. “That’s a consequence of them disobeying,” said the pastor. “There is wrath coming for those who don’t obey.”[1]
When a religiously intoxicated person barges into a wake and claimed that he was personally commissioned by God to raise the cadaver back into life, you will immediately grab popcorn yourself and see next the bursting comedy show coming. It was really funny. And none would bar religion for providing us such entertaining show. When a pastor, like Metho Andres, barges into a room, blows the horn for war preparation, consecrates the high-power guns, and assures the police that they have God behind them in all the carnage they are about to perform, the show stops being funny. You immediately wish religion should have taken Ulrich Beck’s advice to let go of politics and science, and focus instead in the cloister of their individual spirituality, in the place where people are safe from the harm religions inflict.
Jurgen Habermas was just trying to be prudent when he barred religion from public sphere because, as he said, of its irrationality. What the problem really is when this irrationality is being used as pretext for one’s savagery and brutality. When a police officer refuses to wear himself with body camera on the guise that God would take that role,[2] you know why Habermas insists for religions to shape up first. We will forever thankful for that surveillance camera fortuitously located in the right place, enough to capture glimpse of Kian delos Santos’ last moment in the hands of his killers, otherwise we have no witness to tell what really transpired in that fatal night. Unless what the police officer meant is to literally drag God in the court of law to give us the exact details or footage of what happened in those bloody police operations. Absurd it might appear, but just the same, many religious people praised the police officer for such display of faith, rejecting technology and protruding God instead as their witness, or should I rather say, God as their witness-camera in all their anti-drugs operations.
I laughed at Ulrich Beck’s overt concern over the seeming return of religions. For him modernity is failing and religions are returning to the scene, although he is not happy about this. With the latest political disasters occurring worldwide with religions actively participating or responsible to them, I immediately concede that the joke is actually on me. And with the collapse of “imagine communities” being supplanted with globalized village, the prospect of return of religious problems such us atrocities and wars is entirely beyond the power of nation-state to contain. If that happens, if bad religions continue to hold sway, only a global force as perceived by Zygmunt Bauman is our last hope to reverse this.
In the local scene, bad religion is obviously winning the fight. The state itself, which is supposedly secularized, is using religious language to support most of its brutal policies. Most of known religious leaders are either silent or overtly offering legitimation to these inhumane and brutal programs using the Bible, in almost the same manner Pastor Metho Andres is doing it.
It seems that Christianity is forever damned in this tragedy of irony. It has been championing the fight of toppling walls that separated people from each other in the past like the fight of white Christian abolitionists in tandem with the running slaves to abolish slavery in the United States in 19th century. Despite of this and many other noble accomplishments, Christianity is known at the same time of building new walls that divide and pit people against each other. The point is that Christianity has its good side, and it was demonstrated in many instances throughout history. Unfortunately, this was marred by the much weightier bad expressions, like the one gulping us now. Here again is a kind of bad religion that is slowly gnawing us all.
Advertisements

Religious Convictions and the Secular State: Neutralization and Toleration toward the Creation of Democratic Society

by Nestor Ravilas

 

Can religious groups impose their beliefs on people outside of their religious domain? Can we, religious people, influence national policy making that, by doing do, will end up violating and truncating the rights of people not members of our congregations?
With my inchoate understanding, state secularization was not primarily pursued to suppress religion, but to render government neutral in order to justly and fairly govern diverse societies. At the very least, against other opinions, this how Charles Taylor sees secularization is. For any government to succeed on its democratic rule over variegated cultural elements, world views, and religious persuasions, it must resist being identified with any of those contesting groups. In the midst of this conflicting cultures, the state must maintain neutrality to serve well all diverse groups and maintain peace among them. Having in mind John Rawls’ opinion that secularization of a state is different from secularization of a society, one must take therefore as its utmost intention to secularize the state, since society, in most instances, is resistant to it.
To be a secular state is not to be passive; devoid of any expression of commitment and loyalty. A secular state which aim is to pursue fairness must be committed to the trinitarian ideals of enlightenment, namely: liberty, justice and fraternity. Human rights is basically the primary consideration of these democratic ideals. And the democratic state is instituted to make sure that this right is protected and promoted, and not to naively fall as mere tool in the hands powerful stake holders, religious or political.
Since in democratic space everyone is given with equal rights, the work of negotiating conflicting rights is the hardest job of political adjudication. In this contest, to justify one’s rights over the others is not to prove it, but to render it just, said Emmanuel Levinas. This is the simplest rule that one’s rights, religious or political, must refrain from unjustly precluding, trespassing, or violating the rights of other humans. Any expression of rights that harm people and truncates other’s right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as clearly indicated in the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, does not belong in democratic society and, therefore, must be repulsed.
In the height of criticism on outright ordering (encouraging) the Philippine National Police to kill drug addicts and pushers, or hand them over with guns to legitimize the termination, a self-prolaimed Filipino public theologian argues that President Rodrigo Duterte must not be judged according to the Bible or Christian tradition since the president is not an Evangelical Christian and has chosen an ethical decree for himself which is different from that of Evangelicals’ or of the Bible’s. He argues that Evangelical Christians must stop criticizing the president based on the Bible to which the president is not accountable from since he is not its believer. This was uttered despite the fact that thousands of Filipinos are getting killed by the government’s war on drugs.
I compare this scenario with the recent denunciation of Evangelical groups over the move to pass into law the LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill especially the granting of right for same sex people to enter into union of matrimony. This rights are protected by the very spirit of equal rights for all, not to mention that this union renders no victims, motivated rather by love and respect unlike the war on drugs by this government. The religious groups, in response, started to up arms to stop the passing of the bill in order to deny happiness for people, not members of their congregations, but citizens of this country which pursuant of happiness must be protected and supported by this government.
My personal take on this matter is not important. My religious persuasion has nothing to do with the bill; their rights for life, liberty and happiness are primary subject to democratic discourse and not bound within my religious tradition. As religious person, I will support the move for exemption of Evangelical churches to solemnize same sex couples as violation of my religious rights. To make this religious conviction, on the other hand, as hindrance to the happiness of other people outside of my faith tradition is irrational. As in the principle of the self-proclaimed theologian I mentioned, I will not impose my moral creeds to those people that chosen a path or moral code different with mine. Not so with Duterte, however. I will remain as his feisty critic for encouraging and inspiring all these extra judicial killings despite the argument that he should not be judged by Christian or biblical ethics. For killing, the last time a checked it, in religion, in the Bible, in democratic society, and in constitutional essentials, remains as ignominious and nefarious violence of one’s right for life!

“Created after the Image of God”: A Political Theology on Equal Rights & Freedom for All

by Nestor Ravilas

 

It is a little mistake to say that human rights was born in 17th century during the beginning of the enlightenment period. Contrary to this, humans from the beginning of civilizations, from hunter-gatherer to agricultural period, have been asserting, utilizing, and imposing their rights and liberties in this planet over and against other beings, living and non-living. What is accomplished, or rather wished to accomplish, by the course of enlightenment movement is to liberally confer freedom and rights to all human beings. Although it might be correct to say that human rights and freedom were exercised prior to modernity, it is, however, confined among the civilized, the educated, the nobles, and the land owners of Europe. This is to say the savage, the ill-mannered, the proletariat, the destitute, the beggars, those belong to Nietzsche’s herd, have neither freedom nor rights. The enlightenment vision is to democratize human rights and freedom by simply acknowledging the basic humanity of everyone, including the aforementioned group of scumbags.
This means that a political and social conditions must be created to assist everyone to self-determination in order to excel and to flourish in life. Nonetheless, norms and social arrangements that categorized and classified people by birth, color, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, etc. are deeply ingrained in our society that allocation of rights and freedom were tilted to dominant people called “the higher humans”. Our distant past is an artifact that disproves the notion of “spontaneous order”. Everything humanity has constructed, from social structures, to beliefs, including knowledge, are all utilized for the advantages of privilege groups. It is an ambitious dream, but, in order to create a well-ordered society, basic humanity must be given to everyone, and by doing so, granting them with equal access to the privilege of having a livable and fulfilled existence.
It was under this intention that rationality rises as the unassailable component that constitutes our humanity. Although it comes in a package with secularism that assails religions primarily, its promise of progress and democracy would end the dark ages ruled by sacred fascism. Private ownership has not yet been viewed as precursor to capitalism. It bespeaks rather of the end of the monarchs’ monopoly of the goods and the fruits of the land. Liberty, justice, and fraternity become the undying slogan that drives democratic society until today.
Unfortunately, reason is primarily a European rationality, it is the white man’s consciousness! It ends up, nonetheless, in oppressing and enslaving the “Orientals” – the new savages.
In this genealogy, religion has no significant response. It seems unwittingly yielded to Ulrich Beck’s advice to give up science and politics, and focus instead on “spirituality”. Thus, they approach the bible as a book of instructions for the life to come in an unseen and unimaginable world. “The Image of God” included was exhausted in trying to trace the genetic and moral characters the divine act has bequeathed to humans. Holiness, moral sense, non-materiality are just among those offered to delineate this image of God in humans. Reason was even suggested in theology’s attempt to flirt with enlightenment, only to miss out completely the true value and significance of “imago dei”.
Progressive scholarship locates the writing or collection of the materials found in Genesis 1-11 during the tragedy and horror of the exile. The idea therefore of humans created after the image of God was born in this tumultuous Jewish history of war, carnage, genocide, oppression, slavery and other forms of dehumanization. How do we suppose to understand then the audacious claim that humans were created after the image of divine considering the awful context that produced it?
Jurgen Habermas says that it was in the crisis of legitimizing earthly power that leaders of the archaic period draw their authority from religion. The rise of empires which had been engaged in periodic war produced great men and leaders in this period. The heroic feats of these exceptional few raised them above ordinary humans. This need for power and authority to command great number of people with no any blood relations and the exploits of these extraordinary men made them gods among their own people and among the conquered ones. Etymologically, the word god simply means pre-eminence or strong. All these support the study of Sa-Moon Kang that gods are the great leaders of primitive time. Because this fusion of politics and divinity, rulers of archaic period were considered as manifestations of the gods.
Habermas continues that during the axial period this notion did not change much. Although at this point, the divine or gods were relocated outside of the material world and beginning to inhabit the ethereal space as in Israel’s religion, earthly rulers draw still their power and authority from sacred history. From manifestation of gods, political rulers become representatives of gods on earth. This development did not offer any redress, but both entail in the same way that rulers, the monarchs, the emperors, and the kings enjoyed an insurmountable privileged of divinity, either as manifestations or representatives. This divine origin made them sovereigns who reigned above any law, and owned everything found within the domain of empires, including humans. They were under the disposal of these rulers, and only they decides who will live and who will die. And during the rise of empires, war becomes an enterprise and a game where ordinary humans played, fought, and died for the pleasure of their kings and emperors. It was also during this time that colossal artifacts such as the pyramids and palaces were built under the gruesome practice of mass slavery and force labor.
It was in this context, in this games of wars and bacchanalia of the gods at the expense of the sweat and blood of the rest of humanity that the writers of Genesis 1-11 cry out – All of us, every human being, are created in the image of God! The cry was not to answer our non-sense theological question, “What is the nature of man?” It is rather to thrust a spear against this demonic monster that gives utter rights and freedom to the privileged few while subjecting the rest of humanity to abject and outrageous servitude. It was written to clarify our relation to each other, to democratize divinity, and grant all humans of equal rights and freedom. All of us are manifestations and representatives of God/gods that no one should be subjected to slavery, oppression, abuse, injustice, killing, and all forms of subjugation!
The Cartesian-Kantian rationality as basis of basic humanity crumbles when the West faced the irrational “savages” of the Orientals as poignantly discussed by Edward Said in his works. Reason is struggling even now on how they should have to deal with Western religious people whose orientation is imbued with mythic narratives. The “Image of God,” on the other hand, reading it as instruction for social relations, would not bring us into uncertainty even in the face of the most savage people of the most distant tribe in this planet. It says outrightly that every human we meet is a manifestation or representative of God – her rights and freedom must be respected, promoted, supported, and protected as every human community moves toward its collective aspiration of wellness and flourishing. Only that we are so oblivious, or ignorant, of this basic but liberating wisdom of our Judaeo-Christian tradition.

Criminal Society

by Nestor Ravilas

In the recent general assembly of still amorphous group of concerned Evangelicals called, Christians for Life and Dignity, the question was broached up in a supposedly festive night as to why Evangelicals are seemingly acquiescing, if not applauding, with the killing of those suspected addicts. This is actually an expression of disgust and bafflement than a question. Considering that the “image of God” doctrine of Evangelicals is a more robust basis of human rights and dignity than of the constitutional elements of the secular liberalism, you will really wonder why suddenly Evangelicals cast a blind eye and a deaf ear to the cry of the families of those executed and therefore deprived of the rights to prove their guilt or innocence in a court of law.
Crime prevention is the prevailing narrative swarming the public sphere that justifies this social cleansing. Crimes and drug addiction are now inextricably fused. Although preposterous since most of our recorded heinous felonies are committed by those addicted to power and money, they are, nonetheless, accepted by the public, the Evangelical Christians in particular. To terminate those hooked into drugs is to save the public from harm. Thus, all the killings become acceptable, and on its way to form a culture.
Preventing crimes is the obsession of most social managers. It bespeaks of a well-ordered society. The movie, Minority Report, evinces this political determination to curtail crimes by apprehending them before they are consummated. A machine that could predict the next occurrence of a crime would give the police force a chance to stop it before it happens. I wish for a time to come that such kind of machine would start cleaning our society with cutthroats. A rumor once circulated within scientific community that a criminal genes could be identified and thus could immediately neutralize babies carrying those genes to spare our society of crimes. The same thing I wish that we could have in the future a verifiable and dependable test to identify the existence of criminal genes. On their absence, however, we remain steeped into the notion that criminality is an acquired behavior. No one was born criminal!
How some people turned felons then? This is a hard question and no answer is not up for further discussion. In the current occurrences of mass killing in the US and other part of the world, the absence of apparent motivation for such vile acts is what confuses most of police investigators and crime psychologists. Why such morbid carnages were carried out without any clear reasons? Talal Asad in his book, Suicide Bombers, analyzes the psychology behind killing one’s enemy by killing himself too. By and large, one would bring damage to his enemy but making sure to maintain a safe distance. Killing himself with one’s enemy is unspeakable; and no religious fanatics would do that, I tell you.
In the analysis of those who kill without apparent reason and the suicide bombers, it appears that most of them had gone into a miserable and painful process of life. With all the mockery done by the philosophy of consciousness over and against emotion and feelings, Judith Butler insists that we remains emotional beings through and through. That is the reason why some thinkers, including Martha Nussbaum is egging us to develop and nurture our emotions rather that suppressing it under the alleged power of reason. Emotion remains a deciding factor of our identity, as it was found out that rage and hatred were the motivating factor behind those nonsense mass killings we currently witnessed. Rage and hatred developed from childhood onward, through multiple experiences of violence, injustices, abuses, discrimination, hunger, scarcity, and many political and social conditions that prey on people. Rage that will look for ways to pour it out, either in criminal acts as gesture of revenge, or in a cowardly applauding those killings as silent expression of our own rage and hatred. Both acts are symptom that ours is a criminal society.
To kill an addict therefore is not to prevent crime from occurring, it amounts rather in succumbing to your own rage and potentiality as criminal. If criminality, or say addiction, is not predisposed by humanity’s genes but by how the society handles and treats humans, it is the society obligation to amend its shortcomings by helping them to recover and to start a new life. This is the way to neutralize the power of rage and hatred, to curb every potentials of violence, those of having raging desire to commit crimes, and those who applaud and agree in killing them.

Fake News, Fake Life, Fake Existence

by Nestor Ravilas

Is fake news an emerging normal? Or our society is actually built on a web of propaganda?
What is somewhat redressing in last week’s forum on fake news is that the virus does not only inflict this country. That is to say that we are not the only home for millions of idiot in this vast galaxy. What is distressful, however, is the report that the phenomenal rise of fake news, or misinformation, is worldwide in scale, and its continuing proliferation is beyond imagination. The only possible explanation for this is the ubiquitous presence of a market that patronizes and consumes all these lies and propagandas. This sheer assertion, however, is not one of the misinformation circulating around. I see good people myself, pastors and church leaders included, sharing and disseminating this falsehood. Even after calling their attention, they will just ignore you, and share and post again in social media another fake news. As it shows, therefore, they are not victims of misinformation; they did it on purpose to misinform people. And here’s the rub, propaganda intends to exclude and damage people.
With number of practical solutions offered as how to combat this phenomenon, its proliferation baffles us still. The more you fight to stop it, the more it multiplies itself. It behooves us therefore to look for the mother queen that produces the disease.
Fifteen years ago during our wedding, it made some of our religious friends raise their eyebrows when we refused to do the traditional veil the way it was practiced in centuries. Instead of putting it to my shoulder to show my authority as a man, and the other end of the veil to my wife-to-be’s head to announce her inferiority, we decided to cover both our heads to symbolize shared authority and mutual submission. The issue of inferior position of women in marriage creates a raucous recently when Cheska Garcia Kramer, in agreement with it, promotes it in their family Facebook page. There might be some individuals who were offended by such unlikely acceptance of self-debasement, but Cheska might be speaking in behalf of those who have internalized such lower state. We may ask, however, if there are scientific and biological proofs to warrant the self-deprecation of Cheska. There might be differences between men and women, but they do not infer either inferiority or superiority. So where this does condition of differentiated allocation of authority come from?
It comes from the long period of development of our society said Jurgen Habermas. When kinship communities were started to break up to give way to larger groupings like empires, legitimation of authority has turned critical. The need for politics to draw its power from religious elements has become imperative, therefore. Laws must emanate from the divine to confer power to the rulers for them to gain commands over their subjects. Heaven and earth then conflated in politics, and so in social structures and social arrangements. As succinctly puts by Habermas, religious practices have turned to be state rituals.
Here is where the tension lies, what religious practices did creep in into state and social rituals? Michel Foucoult himself clearly pointed out that our institutional violence is an offshoot of ritual violence of religion. I have talked of this topic in length in my published article in Asia Journal Theology, so I will rather indulge on other mythic narratives that turned to be legitimizers of these differentiated social arrangements. Secular scholars from Charles Taylor, to Jurgen Habermas, and Richard Rorty are basically problematizing this tendency of our society to draw its legitimacy from sacred history or mythic narratives. As in the case of men’s superiority over women, as the general position of women as inferior, as gay orientation as perversion of alleged original design, as those outside of one’s religious “we” are doomed, as having a violent god justifies our impulse for violence, all of these draw their justification from mythic narratives, and given an existential application in formal social arrangements and socialization. To say it simply, fake news is not an emerging normal, it is the normal we live into from the earliest civilization known to humans.
Going back to the question, “Why we patronize and share fake news?” It is probably because our society is a fertile soil that every fake news dropped will surely live, grow, and flourish. We exist in a world of misinformed faith, misinformed beliefs, and misinformed principles that intend to hurt, malign, exclude, and destroy people. We are used to it. Those who benefit from it, sustain it; those who fall victims, internalize it as in the case of Cheska. So why qualm on two or three or more additional fake news in the plethora of collection of propaganda we already have in order to victimize more people? We are standing on it, so better to live with it. By the way, this essay might be a propaganda as well, friends!
PENUEL SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

The Gift of Death: A Reflection on Death & Dying

by Nestor Ravilas

Humans do not fear death, it is the suffering that comes before death that scares them. This, however, is not true. The prospect of ending this life is what frightened us most. Apostle Paul intones this ingrained fear of death when he said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death!” From Paul thereon, Christianity has been generally viewed as a religion that is completely insane with the problem of death. As a threat to life, it is actually impossible not to agree with Paul, and the subsequent history of vilification of death in Christian tradition. Gilgamesh on his part provides us the ghastly picture that is lacking from Paul. “No one sees death, no one sees the face of death, no one hears the voice of death, yet savage death is the one that hacks man down,” he said. Mythical stories humanity was able to preserve were marred in one way or another with the presence of death in their story plots. Death is so formidable that most of our cultural wisdom, medicine and religions, are all pursued in search of the meaning, if not solutions, of the problem of death. Philosophy included, on its emphasis on moral life, must not be construed as passive or unaffected of the threat of death. Rather, its stress on justified existence is its best way of making sense of one’s death.
Paul’s voice might be the loudest in the gamut of biblical tradition that speaks of death, but it is not the only voice we have there, however. He might have an authority behind him in reviling death: the two accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 indeed nowhere to show death as part of creation, or a thing that was made by God. Its very source it malevolent. It was there somewhere, but hidden. Nonetheless, it could be conjured, it could be called into being and step in the created world only once the first couple trespassed. And they did, and death entered. Death therefore is a product of sin! So when Paul says that the wages of sin is death, he has the Genesis story behind his mind. Death therefore is an enemy, death is evil.
In almost the same period where Genesis narratives in Chapters 1-11 were written (or copied, revised and compiled) there was also published a piece of literature now named as creation psalm. Psalm 104 is a poetic narration of creation. Unfortunately, it has not gained the level of popularity and importance as the creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2, and that probably due to the bequeathed injustice of enlightenment project that favors theological proposition over and against art and poetry. Psalm 104 then was brushed aside as mere emotional outburst of the psalmist. Trying to suspend for a while this discrimination, the creation psalm bears two distinct features that are absent in the creation narratives of Genesis. Human as not the center of the creation is the first, and the second one is that death is part of the created order.
Although the psalm does not tell the origin of death, death however was featured as part of creation. Death is not evil conjured somewhere by transgression into existence as found in Genesis account. It was created by God. Birth is a divine gift, and so as death. Both are part of created order. Death, therefore, in Psalm 104 is not an enemy, but an integral part of this divine gift we called life.
This is not a question of which of the two has the primary importance. It might be a variation in humanity’s response to our immemorial struggle with the problem of dying. You might want to side on death as a separate evil entity, not created by God, but conjured into being by sin. Or death as part of overall design of divine creation.
In the New Testament, prior to the entrance of Paul into the big screen, there are two prominent parables uttered by Jesus where death played an integral role. First is in the Parable of the Rich Fool where death is consigned as divine tool in cutting off an arrogant and sovereign life. The rich fool touted his wealth and celebrated the prospect of luxurious life. God on the other hand frustrated his drive for sovereignty by sending death in an instant. Death then is in complete control of God and could be summon to curb the impertinence of humanity’s drive for more. As in the words of Emmanuel Levinas, death is a threat, not primarily against life, but in a proud and sovereign life.
Death, however, slides to a little variation in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. From the first parable told, one may ask that not only those aiming for sovereign life that are cut down by death, but even those poor people like Lazarus – thus, in reality, death visited both the rich and the poor. Although the same death occurred to them, the life conditions of the two, however, are completely different. Lazarus lived in complete misery, while the rich man was pompously living in luxury. Death is freedom for Lazarus, it is a curse for the rich man. It timely ended the tragic life of Lazarus, it prematurely ended the pleasure of the rich man. Blessing and curse, but one and the same death.
Unlike in the story of the Rich Fool where death is pictured as an abyss of nothingness, in this parable, death portrays like a door where one could pass from one place to another. Death did not only end the suffering of Lazarus, but transferred him to a glorious space of blessedness, the complete reversal of the fate of the rich man who was dumped in torment. In both parables, death was not shown as something existing outside of divine intentionality. In the first one, it was an instrument waiting in dispense of God; in the second one, it was a passage separating the life here and there. Death is a gift that reminds us of our mortality, that no suffering will last forever, that no drive for sovereignty will ever come to fulfillment, and no life will not return to dust. Life then from the very beginning is not given to be kept, but to offer as a counter gift. I heard Jesus saying, to keep it is to lose it, and to lose it is to have it.
If we insist on the other hand that death is evil and an enemy, I am afraid we might be in company with the Rich Fool and of the Rich Man. Happy Halloween!

God Dies with Us (Matthew 21)

by Nestor Ravilas

He is from Galilee, the city located exactly at the other end of the political and economic center of Judea which is Jerusalem. From the time newspapers and prime time news programs beginning to cover his activities, spies and state agents were sent out to monitor his activities. Sifted from the reports of all four gospels, the power house of the elite and political class were dispatched to sleuth on him – Pharisees, scribes, experts of the law, and even Herodians in the account of Mark, take interest on him and went down to Galilee, the city that produces most of the activists and bandits in the late second temple Judea. Galilee is the worst place to live in having situated at the dry end of the economic funnel that sloshes down starting from the prime city of Jerusalem, but a conducive den for the enemies of the state like brigands, bandits, and activists for they could safely slide to Macedonia once the state would whimsically budge in to run them down, or wickedly spray them to test its newly acquired bullets from China.
The swarming of state agents from Jerusalem has not intimidated Jesus and his vestigial movement. Instead of retreating up to Syria or swim across the Decapolis in fear of the daunting presence of the state power, the movement rather is heading forward, threading the main highway going to Malakanyang palace, I mean, Jerusalem. It was a protest march, obviously. It was a march described with series of intense collisions with the state agents, the Pharisees, the scribes, the experts of the law, and the Philippine National Police. Jesus has never mince words in insulting these religious and political groups of Jerusalem. Most of the altercations centered on the discriminatory treatments of those socially classified as outcasts – tax collectors, prostitutes, addicts, etc. Those “sinners” who were barred from associating with the healthy and ritually pure inhabitants. Jesus himself, in many occasions, was questioned regarding his purity because of his association with these defiled people. In one occasion, he was sneered off by bishops, pastors, Evangelicals, and peace builders for having meals with some youth who have fallen victims to substance abuse. There was actually series of incitement issued by the insane high priest now sitting in Jerusalem temple to kill these social gross.
It was all the purpose of the protest march, to challenge the power of its baleful pretension and hypocrisy. Unfazed, Jesus entered Malakanyang, the very seat of power. To everyone’s surprise, there he went berserk and started throwing and toppling everything, in the place where the very power resides. It was a demonstration of indignation, of repulsion, of complete outrage to the institution that supports, sustains, and promotes such dehumanizing policies that discriminate the socially defiled such as prostitutes, tax collectors, and the drug dependents who were creatively converted to shooting targets like those zombies in the television series, The Walking Dead, by the state. Jesus thereafter withdraws in solitude but remains undaunted of his belief, that there is still hope for those social gross to find salvation, while those who are confident of theirs might lose it if they will not take heed John’ call for repentance. The following day, Jesus is dead. He suffered “Tokhang” himself while praying in a garden somewhere in Caloocan, for he was already profiled because of his association with these social dirt. Will he rise again? Will he rise again to make true of his promise?!
Good people of this country, will you rise with him?!